Physician Scientist Program

physician program

Up to two incoming pediatric interns will be selected each year for this program, based upon their interest in applying to a Pediatric subspecialty fellowship program and commitment to a career in basic science/translational research. Potential candidates will be identified through self-nomination during their residency interviews or pre-selected by the Residency Program Directors. This program provides an opportunity to participate in a training pathway that will prepare qualified candidates for an academic career in Pediatrics. The program currently entertains two tracks: a Categorical track that consists of up to 6 months of dedicated elective time for research, and the American Board of Pediatrics’ Accelerated Research Pathway (a.k.a. “fast-tracking”). Specific training opportunities include:

  • Time in the PGY1 year to identify research mentors and research opportunities
  • Faculty mentorship in the fellowship application process, as well as dedicated research elective time for those pursuing the Categorical track
  • Consideration for the Accelerated Research Pathway (ARP), which is 2 years in general pediatrics and 4 years in Pediatric Subspecialty Fellowship.
  • Mentorship and support for application to the Pediatric Scientist Development Program (PSDP): https://amspdc-psdp.org/ 
  • Attendance at annual national conferences in research area of interest
  • Involvement in the STAR and pro-STAR community starting in residency: https://medschool.ucla.edu/star 

Successful progress within the Pediatrics Residency Program is a prerequisite for the trainee's entry into any of the clinical fellowships offered within the Department of Pediatrics. Successful candidates will be guaranteed funding during their fellowship training on one of the NIH training grants within the Department of Pediatrics, although many of our trainees are successful in securing external funding. For those with medical school debt, they will be eligible for the Janet and Ray Scherr Fellowship Loan Repayment Endowment Program during their fellowship training. After fellowship, successful participants will be appointed as Junior Faculty at UCLA for 1-2 years with funding from a "Scholars Program" through the Department of Pediatrics. Fellows from this program will receive mentorship while writing a career development award, e.g. K08, to support their academic appointment in the Department of Pediatrics.

Learn more about the UCLA Department of Pediatrics Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute & our faculty researchers

Physician Scientist Program NRMP#: 1956320C1

physicians program

Current Trainees & Program Alumni 

Cody Aros, MD, PhD - current
Richard (Lee) Sleightholm, MD, PhD - current
Bassem Shoucri, MD, PhD - (2020 - 2022) 
Xavier Gaeta, MD, PhD (2018 - 2021)
Rameshwar Ramineni Rao, MD, PhD (2018 - 2020)
Gloria Sheng, MD, PhD (2017 - 2020)
T. Scott Nowicki, MD, PhD (2013 - 2016)
Matt Smith-Raska, MD, PhD (2012 - 2015)
Steven Jonas, MD, PhD (2012 - 2015)

Meet Cody Aros, MD, PhD

cody aros

Why did you want to train at UCLA?
My decision to pursue further training at UCLA was multifaceted. First, the phenomenal general pediatrics clinical training at a quaternary academic medical center was alluring. The integration with the adult hospital system also allows for multidisciplinary conferences, seminars, and events that collectively offer a unique lens to our pediatrics training. Second, Los Angeles is one of the most richly diverse cities on all fronts -- race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, and disability status, to name a few. The opportunity to care for these diverse patient populations directly contributes to the immense strength of the UCLA program. Third, the Pediatrics Department and UCLA Health System at large are very supportive of the physician-scientist career and harbor an impressive infrastructure to achieve this through the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute. Fourth, as I grew up in southern California, proximity to my family and support system was important to me.

Why did you decide to join the Physician Scientist program?
The research environment at UCLA is truly incredible, influential, and highly collaborative. There are several fantastic investigators conducting groundbreaking stem cell biology and regenerative medicine research, which lay at the intersection of my interests. I envision a career as a physician-scientist who serves as a pediatric clinician as well as a principal investigator of a basic science stem cell biology laboratory. Given all of these factors, I strongly felt that the PSP would best foster my growth towards this pursuit.

Are you currently working on any projects? 
Scientifically, I am currently finishing studies from my PhD work with Dr. Brigitte Gomperts here at UCLA, identifying and characterizing a novel regulator of the Wnt signaling cascade that has implications for airway stem cell homeostasis. Clinically, I am currently considering pursuing the Accelerated Research Pathway.

What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I love exploring various hiking trails in the city as well as the greater Los Angeles area with my dog Moro (yes, he's named after the Moro reflex... very pediatrics of me). As an avid foodie, I'm also always scoping out the next best restaurant or food event in LA.

What would you like to tell prospective applicants?

The UCLA Pediatric Physician Scientist Program has a fantastic track record in mentoring young physician scientists throughout every phase and transition of training: residency, fellowship, and junior faculty positions. I believe its smaller size offers great strength to its trainees, as there is an impressive amount of oversight, guidance, and attention dedicated to each trainee. I am beyond excited to pursue the early phases of my career development here with UCLA Pediatrics.

Meet Bassem Shoucri, MD, PhD

Bassem Shoucri

Why did you want to train at UCLA?
I came to UCLA because I felt the PSP excelled in all three components of my training: 1. excellent general pediatric training at a quaternary academic medical center, 2. excellent subspecialty training in my clinical field of interest (endocrinology) and 3. a wealth of exciting potential post-doc mentors in my field of research interest (obesity and metabolism). In addition, the vast resource that is UCLA main campus is next door, creating a ripe environment for physician scientists who wish to collaborate with their basic science colleagues. 

Why did you decide to join the Physician Scientist program?
There is a tremendous culture of physician scientists at UCLA across all specialties, and the Department of Pediatrics is dedicated to developing trainees who are passionate about bench science. Most importantly, I felt that the CDI had the infrastructure and mentorship in place to guide my career from resident to fellow to junior faculty and, ultimately, independent researcher. 

Are you currently working on any projects?
I am completing the Accelerated Research Pathway and starting UCLA Peds Endocrinology fellowship in July 2022.

What do you do in your free time?
My free time is spent with my wife and two daughters - ages 3 1/2 and almost 9 months! When I have a rare moment to myself I’m an average pick up basketball player and a lover of the NBA… go Lakers, of course. 

What would you like to tell prospective applicants?
I think any prospective applicant should not overlook UCLA, as it is an incredible research institution that brings in hundreds of millions of NIH dollars annually. The medical community has a dedication to the development of physician scientists and the Department of Pediatrics/CDI is no exception. I am so pleased to be pursuing my career goals at this institution.